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First woman reported cured of HIV after stem cell transplant

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A leukemia patient in the United States has become the first woman and only the third person to be cured of HIV after receiving a stem cell transplant from a donor who was naturally resistant to the virus that causes AIDS, according to researchers on Tuesday.

The incident of a 64-year-old mixed-race woman, presented at the Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections in Denver, is also the first to use umbilical cord blood, a newer strategy that could make the treatment more accessible to more individuals.

Since getting cord blood to treat her acute myeloid leukemia — a malignancy that begins in blood-forming cells in the bone marrow – the woman has been in remission and virus-free for 14 months, without the need for powerful HIV medications known as antiretroviral therapy.

The previous two examples involved males — one white and one Latino – who had received adult stem cells, which are more commonly used in bone marrow transplants.

“This is now the third report of a cure in this setting, and the first in a woman living with HIV,” Sharon Lewin, President-Elect of the International AIDS Society, said in a statement.

The instance is part of a broader study funded by the United States and led by Dr. Yvonne Bryson of the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) and Dr. Deborah Persaud of Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore. It intends to follow 25 persons infected with HIV who receive stem cell transplants from umbilical cord blood for the treatment of cancer and other serious illnesses.

Patients in the trial are initially given chemotherapy to eliminate malignant immune cells. Doctors then transplant stem cells from people who have a specific genetic defect that causes them to lack receptors that the virus uses to infect cells.

Scientists believe that these people develop an immune system that is resistant to HIV.

According to Lewin, bone marrow transplants are not a viable technique for curing most HIV patients. However, the findings “confirms that an HIV cure is possible and strengthens the use of gene therapy as a viable strategy for an HIV cure,” she said.

According to the study, the transplantation of HIV-resistant cells is a significant factor in the study’s success. Previously, experts assumed that graft-versus-host disease, a common stem cell transplant side effect in which the donor immune system assaults the recipient’s immune system, had a part in a prospective therapy.

“Taken together, these three cases of a cure post stem cell transplant all help in teasing out the various components of the transplant that were absolutely key to a cure,” Lewin said.

REFERENCE/S:
First woman reported cured of HIV after stem cell transplant|Inquirer

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